Friday, May 26, 2017

Matt Cained

2-0 loss in SF
Matt Cain found himself in familiar circumstances tonight: pitching well but the team failing to deliver runs. It felt like the good old days in '07 and '08 when he put up a 15-30 W-L record. The team was a robust 149-175 over those two seasons; that .460 win percentage looks pretty good right now. It was a 0-0 tie until the top of the 7th when the Giants intentional-walk-of-the-no.8-hitter gambit bit them in the ass. The Braves pitcher, veteran southpaw Jaime Garcia, got a two-out hit and two runs scored on the play and that was the ballgame. Garcia had thrown six scoreless by that point and he got two more outs in the bottom of the 7th before handing it over to the 'pen who kept the string of zeros going. The Giants got four hits, all singles, all against Garcia.

Buster Posey played first base. Imagine how rested and protected Posey would be if he could DH. He'd be a great DH. I say we lobby the NL to adopt the DH. I'm not willing to go there, usually, but we're talking about Buster here. I'm willing to go there for Buster. The question is: are you?

--M.C.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cubs Club Giants

Today's 5-1 loss in Chicago came a little too soon after last night's 5-4 loss for my taste. I was still hungover from that gut-wrenching game and I didn't need another disappointment. Ah well, another wasted start from--get this--team ace Jeff Samardzija who was mostly effective in his gangly strong-armed way. He even whacked a double and gave the Giants a good chance to get a run but the lineup failed to get it done. Today the Giants hit some balls hard and had some bad luck but that matters not anymore. This team needs to hit the ball in key spots and they just don't do it consistently enough or with sufficient power. Mostly they just make too many outs: the team OBP is .288, tied for last with the Royals.

The Cubs not only blasted the ball (10 homers in the four games) but played superbly in the field. Their defense is as good as advertised. Giants are now 11-12 for the month of May.

Matt Cain tomorrow at home against the Braves. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lester Liquefies Giants

Loss, 4-1 @ CHC 

Jon Lester (3-2) needed 99 pitches to dominate the Giants and coast to a complete game win, 4-1.  His performance was scary good (game score 93!) so there was slim chance for Johnny Cueto (4-4) on this rainy night. However, JohnnyC (game score 42) didn't help any with three more homers (that makes 11 this year) .  That is not at all like the Cueto I remember from last year.  Time to worry?

Put this game in the better forgotten column.  I'm kind of surprised we scored a run!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blach in the Win Column

The Giants opened a 4 game series in Chicago this evening and came out looking good, winning the opener, 6 - 4.

Joe Panik batting in the #1 hole, led off with a home run off of old Giants nemesis John Lackey.  Giants kept the pressure on, scoring 2 more in the 3rd (again, Joe Panik, doubling in Gorkys Hernandez and then scoring on a Brandon Belt single); 1 in the 4th (Justin Ruggiano doubling in Edward Nunez); 1 on a Belt home run in the 5th; and 1 in the 8th on a Ruggiano home run.  So it was 6 - 0 going into the bottom of the 8th inning.  Ty Blach was on the mound, with only 90-some odd pitches through the 7th and no runs with the help of some great defense.  In particular, in the 3rd, Buster Posey gunned down the speedy Javier Baez with a throw as perfect as you will ever see.  Too bad it is not on the highlight reel on sfgiants.com or espn.  It really was the highlight.  Helpful, too, considering that Ben Zobrist, up next, tripled.  However, at that point there were 2 outs and the next batter grounded out.

Blach pitched great.  At the end of 7, he had struck out 3 and walked none.  He came out to pitch the 8th, though, and got into trouble.  A Jason Heward single followed by a Baez home run and an Ian Happ triple brought Derek Law into the game, who gave up a home run to Zobrist to make it 6 - 4.  Fortunately, with the help of Okert and Strickland, the Giants went into the 9th with a 6 - 4 lead, and Melancon got the save.  Whew!  So Blach picked up 3 earned runs and the Giants pick up a win (but did not gain on the Crockies).  Joe Panik was 3 for 4.  How many consecutive solo home runs is that now?  16?  How is that not a record?  Also, this seems like an oddity: the Giants batting order had (except for the pitcher) the outfielders batting last.  Keep winning!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cardinals Prevail

8-3 loss in StL
Matt Cain got clobbered in the getaway game today in St. Louis and Giants hitters were subdued by perennial stud Adam Wainwright. The Giants take 2 of 3 however and win their third straight series. They go to Chicago to take on the defending champion Cubs for four games starting tomorrow night before coming home at the end of the week for three against the Braves. They finish the month and the homestand with three against the Nationals. The Giants are 10-9 for the month of May after starting 2-6, let's hope they can keep the winning momentum going.

--M.C.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Giants Win . . . Again!

3-1 win (13) in StL
The Giants win in extra innings on the road. I'll say that again: the Giants win in extra innings on the road. That makes two wins in a row. I'll say that again: that makes two wins in a row. Jeff Samardzija had to match up with a nearly unhittable Carlos Martinez and wouldn't you know he delivered eight scoreless frames and kept the Giants in the game. The game, like last night, featured a rain delay, but the Giants prevailed thanks to a big hit from Christian Arroyo in the top of the 13th. I have to say I like this version of the 2017 Giants a lot better than what we were seeing last month.

--M.C.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Giants Win!

6-5 win in StL
I couldn't come up with anything clever, but that was perhaps the best win of the season. For a team as offensively challenged as the Giants to come from behind not once but twice is almost impossible to believe. When the 'pen gagged the lead I was sure it was over. I know, I know, anything can happen and I really do try to stay positive but it's not like the team has engendered a feeling of confidence in 2017. But here it is, a win. A come from behind win on the road. SIX runs in the last three frames for the Giants.

--M.C.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

No Joy from JohnnyC

Loss, 6-1 vs. LAD 

The lovely five game win streak ran into Clayton Kershaw and it was no contest.  The undeniable L.A. Ace, Kershaw (7-2), completely outdueled the stand-in S.F. "Ace," Johnny Cueto (4-3),  in a game that only a dogger fan would love.  And since I am assuming there are no such fans reading this, I figure there isn't much point in rehashing this one.

The only detail "worth" mentioning was the rare display of hostility from our usual fun-loving JohnnyC.  It seemed like he got pissed at Grandal for hitting a good pitch.  He actually seemed to be channeling his inner MadBum.  Turns out  he thought Grandal was stealing signs.  Anyway, it got juicy when Cueto uncorked a fast ball near the dude's head. Intentional? I doubt it; it did let a run in on a wild pitch.  Then after Grandal flew out they "exchanged words" which of course led to "benches clearing."  No action, no ejections.  Just a rare and strange display by a frustrated JohnnyC.

We get a day off and then we START ANOTHER WIN STREAK!  Go Giants!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Blach Belt

I'm getting giddy.  The Giants won their 5th in a row, beating the doggers in a typical, low-scoring AT&T nail biter, 2 - 1.

Except, it wasn't that much of a nail biter.  That's because Ty Blach, young Madbum replacement, was in command for much of the game.  He had a few moments of concern.  In the 4th, Turner was at third after a Hernandez double with 1 out, but Christian Arroyo astutely nailed Turner at home and Blach induced a ground ball out to end the inning.  Then, in the 6th, after a lone home run to Chris Taylor, Gutierrez singled, working his way to 3rd before Blach retired the side on a Puig fly-out.  I think that was it for dogger runners in scoring position, though.  Ty threw 8 innings, struck out 4 and walked 2.  Derek Law threw a 1-2-3 9th.

Brandon Belt was the offensive hero, with a solo shot to left center in the 4th, and then scoring the Giants 2nd run in the bottom of the 6th on a Brandon Crawford single.  That is now 10 consecutive Giants home runs with no one on base.   That's amazing!  The Giants have 5 wins in a row!  That's also amazing!  Kershaw versus Cueto tomorrow.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cain and Giants Whip Dodgers

8-4 win in SF
Lots of things have gone wrong for the San Francisco Giants this season but one of the things that hasn't is Matt Cain. It was easy to think that any faith in the big righty was misplaced; age catches up with all athletes, no matter how accomplished. Somehow The Tennessee Stud has reinvented himself as a curveball pitcher and is getting results I have to think are better than most people expected. I've held out hope all along that the former ace, if healthy, could still pitch in the bigs and get guys out. He's been doing that pretty well so far--tonight was his second fine start against the Dodgers and the fifth time the Giants have won with him on the mound in eight chances. He also put down a sacrifice bunt and got a base hit.

The Giants had a four-run inning in the 4th, their second in two days, and scored eight runs in the game for the second time in two days. Who are these guys? It's an offensive juggernaut! Buster Posey hit another home run and he's now slashing .375/.453/.598 which I think we have to say is acceptable.

Giants get their fourth straight win and are now .500 (7-7) for the month of May.

--M.C.


p.s. Hunter Pence goes on the DL and Mac Williamson gets the call and he responds with two hits, a run scored, and a run batted in. Hey, I'll take it! On the flip side, Cory Gearrin turned a laugher into a save situation with two hits allowed to two batters with two runs scoring. That's 15 hits and 13 walks in 15-2/3 IP with 9 inherited runners out of 14 scoring. Yikes!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Motherly Love

8-3 win in SF
The Giants take their third straight over the Reds with a big win today behind Jeff Samardzija and a resurgent lineup. Four runs in the 1st and three in the 2nd backed the big righty and Brandon Belt launched a long homer in the 6th to complete the scoring. Today was among the Samardz-jiest starts of the season for The Shark with dominant strikeout stuff mixed in with nine hits allowed. 114 pitches to get twenty outs, lots of foul balls and long counts and busy innings but overall effective, even if not very pretty. No walks or homers allowed--that's what I like to see. By my reckoning he's pitched well enough to win in at least five of his eight starts, four if you are picky, and had no decisions in his two best outings. He hasn't been great, but he's been perfectly adequate in the fourth-starter role and the 1-5 W-L record reflects the team's inadequacies more than his. The only W's that matter are in the team's win-loss record, as we all know, and the Giants get their fifteenth win and crawl out of the NL West cellar.
forget about
the brotherly and otherly love
motherly love
is just the thing for you
Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there!

--M.C.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Two in a row!

3-1 win in SF
Giants beat the Reds and win two in a row for only the second time all season!! The Giants hit TWO HOMERS and they also conjured up a run with small ball to give the bullpen a two-run cushion. For the Giants, that's huge. Now if they could only hit homers with men on base  . . . but I'm not complaining, the Giants won the goddamn game. Nice to see Matt Moore deliver a strong start. Jeff Samardzija tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Marathon Must Win

Win, 3-2 (17) vs CIN 

Buster Posey hit a mammoth homer at 12:43 this morning to send a few hundred stubborn fans home in absolute joy as the woeful Giants nipped the Reds, 3-2 in SEVENTEEN innings.  I followed this game in my car as I traveled down I-5 to see family in SacTown.  Since I got a late jump and was departing the Mt. Shasta area at 7pm I figured that I'd be "watching" this one on line.  Little did I know that I would get to see the last hour on a big screen!

I'm sure we all hope this game is the turning point. Only time will tell. It sure did have a few memorable highlights:
     *  Buster's bat flip and look of sheer relief are priceless. It was his longest of the Statcast era (431         ft.).  I think it was longer. It friggin' one hopped the Coke bottle.
     *  JohnnyC did his thing: 8 strong, game score around 70, 2 sac
     *  I may be odd, but I love me some small ball.  We had 3 perfect bunts in a row, 2 hits and a double sac which set up the red hot Span to single in the tying run.
     *  BCraw and Buster combined on a sweet tag out at the plate, which was quickly followed by picking a guy off second to end a major threat. I love when we use our defense as a weapon
     *  The game ball goes to the bullpen, no doubt. Everyone was used and everyone did their job. Gearrin went the last two and who knows would have gone next (Moore?)

So, is it a meaningful win? Or just a lucky W ?  Or maybe even a costly win... since Buster and most of the bullpen is very unavailable today?

Only time will tell. Go Giants!!


Friday, May 12, 2017

2nd inning: 6-12

Giants follow a terrible inning with a terrible inning. After a 9-17 (.346) month of April they bounce back with a 3-7 (.300) May. It doesn't matter how you slice the numbers they still come out ugly. Their 12-24 (.333) record is the worst in the majors. That's two losses for every win, not exactly a formula for success.

--M.C.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

0-134 no more

6-5 win in NY
Christian Arroyo crushes a bases-clearing double in the top of the 9th against Mets closer Jeurys Familia to lead the Giants to a come-from-behind victory! That breaks a streak of 134 consecutive losses when trailing after eight innings. Naturally the Giants were without $62M closer Mark Melancon in one of their very few save chances, but Derek Law managed to get it done despite almost giving it all away (with a little help from Justin Ruggiano). Just add it to the list of crazy unbelievable shit that's happened in 2017.

Matt Cain bounced back from a horrid start in Cincinnati and pitched effectively today in New York. Did I mention that the Giants WON the game? The team is 4-3 in his seven starts. Ideally, you want your guy to do one thing: pitch better than the other guy. It was close today, Cain allowed three runs on four hits (one HR) and two walks in five innings. Tommy Milone gave up two runs on six hits (one HR) and two walks in his five innings. Matty's job is 5th starter, I daresay he has fulfilled that role so far. But today's story, believe it or not, is the lineup and the bullpen. Like Cain, the bullpen wasn't exactly dominating or pretty, but they were effective. The lineup, in grand 2017 style, had a solo shot and a sac fly to go with eight singles and two walks before the 9th inning. They finally got an extra-base hit with men on base, something they've seemed genetically unable to do in this young season.

One major positive of this series is three homers from Buster Posey. That big fly stroke has been absent for a while, it's nice to see it back. He has been making hard contact but has also been hitting ground balls, it seems, at an alarming frequency. Maybe he made an adjustment, or maybe he was a bit unlucky earlier. Perhaps with Brandon Belt really struggling these last two weeks we'll see more of him at first base (even though he did make an error that led to a run) and Nick Hundley behind the plate.

Thursday is Game 36. Doesn't it seem like the season has been a lot longer than just two innings? That was the Giants longest road trip of the season, and the longest losing streak. They come home to face the Reds and Dodgers.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. You might be interested in this piece from FanGraphs called Jeff Samardzija is the Best and Worst He's Ever Been. I should note that, with 0.8 fWAR, he's by far our best pitcher (excluding Madison Bumgarner who still clocks in at 0.9!). But for the enigma that is The Shark, this is an illuminating article, even if it might be a little too saber-y for most folks.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Thank God for Gin

Ah, Gin.  The spirit that soothes the worried mind (when taken in sufficient quantity).  My mind is worried.  The doormats of the major leagues lost again, their 5th in a row and second to a Mets team beset by injuries, but reveling in the gifts brought by San Francisco.  Every team in the major leagues must be checking their schedules to see when they can rest their regulars and still pick up a couple wins at the Giants expense.  You'd think the Giants could stumble their way into a win just by random chance.  Apparently not.  Here's the gist.

Tonight, in a new display of ineptitude, the Giants' outfielders (Nunez and Hernandez) refused to catch the ball.  Maybe it was a slowdown to protest working conditions.  I did that once in my career as a government bureaucrat, but after a couple months I realized that no one had noticed, so I called it off. There were not errors charged because the outfielders just stood there and let the balls go by, so Jeff Samardzija, who was so brilliant in his last start, was charged with earned runs.  They were not.  The Giants scored 1 run on 2 hits.  2 freaking hits.  The 1 run was because Buster hit a pitch into the seats.

Apparently, now Mark Melancon is on the disabled list.  I don't know what he is suffering from.  Ennui, perhaps?  I think this drink is called an Etonian.  Or at least, I had a drink like it the other night and tried to replicate it tonight to help me forget that I am a fan of the San Francisco laughing stock of a baseball club.  I can only hope I am humiliated by this post in the very near future.  Take a strong, but floral gin.  I used Nolet's, which comes in at something over 90 proof.  Put 1.5 or 2 oz on ice in a shaker.  Add 1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur and 1/2 or 1 oz Lillet.  Add orange bitters, like Fee Brothers.  Mix.  Strain into a glass and add a lemon twist.  Drink.  Repeat.  Or if you're not into gin, drink something else.  It's all we have left.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Swept Out of Cincy

Loss, 4-0 @ CIN  

Putting forth an effort that is probably not worth a lousy blog post, the Giants got finished off by a Scott Feldman shut out, 4-0.  Considering the previous two losses, this one felt rather merciful.  It was pretty much over after they scored two in the first.  JohnnyC (4-2) did OK (7 innings, game score 54) and sure had his strikeout stuff (a season high 10).  But they had Scott Feldman.  Yes, the Scott Feldman.  The Hawaiian born, College of San Mateo stud that once won SEVENTEEN games for the Texas Rangers.  Of course, that was in TWO THOUSAND AND NINE!

Oh, never mind.  I would rather vacuum than talk about this team right now.  Peace, out.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Blach-ed Out

Well.  That pipe dream, the one where the Giants win every series in May, sure went in the crapper in a hurry.  The doormats of the National League dropped another one in Cincinnati, 14 - 2.  And you thought yesterday's blow-out was bad.

Ty Blach was the bad news bearer of hit-able pitches this time.  I guess you can forgive a rookie, he is awfully new and has been great so far, even though he has only pitched in a winning game once in 10 2017 appearances (April 18 at KC).  Ty gave up 10 runs on 11 hits.  8 of them were earned.  He lasted only 3 innings.  He was followed by Kontos (2 IP, 2 runs), Morris (1 IP, 0 runs), Okert (2/3 IP, another 2 runs), Osich (1 1/3 IP, 0 runs).  Our bullpen is getting chewed up because our starters are only putting in cameo roles.

I guess it's approaching time to ask whether this team, loaded with All Star talent, with a starting rotation that should be the envy of any team and a newly minted closer that we paid top dollar for, will actually put in a competitive season.  Hell, it's about time that we ask whether they can get to .500.  Or even .400.  I'm sure everyone associated with this team is scratching their heads in wonderment at this team's stinkitude, just like we are.

Friday, May 5, 2017

I'm glad I skipped this one

Reds 13 Giants 3
You read that right, thirteen runs allowed, nine charged to starting pitcher Matt Cain. He had a nice run going with only three runs allowed in his last 23 innings but the Reds took care of that straight away on a wet night in Cincinnati. Not much else to say, rookie Christian Arroyo got a homer off grizzled vet Bronson Arroyo, Buster had three hits, and Nick Hundley got another double which makes eight two-baggers out of his twelve hits. The nightmare continues. It seems they can't put together back-to-back good games. And it's alarming that two starters both allow nine runs in the same turn through the rotation! In fairness, not much was expected of Cain, he was listed as the fifth starter for a reason. Two stinkers in six starts, and the Giants won three of the other four, he's been holding his own at the back end, I have to say. I've held out hope that he would "find it" again and it seems he might have. Let's hope tonight is the aberration and not the trend. Cain I feel OK about. The team, not so much.

Ty Blach tomorrow. I'm excited that the rookie's getting his chance even though it came about in a shitty way. Skipped the broadcast tonight and went out socializing. You gotta pull the damn needle out of your arm now and again, eh?

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Giants Edge Dodgers in Extras

SF 4  LA 1 (11)
The Giants spent most of the evening doing their best not to get a clutch hit or score a run. Fortunately starter Jeff Samardzija was up to the task with his best effort of the season, an 8-inning, 11-strikeout, no-walks gem. The Giants gave up a run in the bottom of the 6th on an error by Joe Panik and some hustle by Yasiel Puig and it looked for all the world like a classic Caining but they eked out the tying run in the top of the 8th. Hunter Pence took two bases on a passed ball and Buster Posey knocked him in with a groundout. Some fabulous relief work--that's a phrase I've not typed much--gave the good guys a second wind and they finally broke through in the 11th with run-scoring hits from Gorkys HernĂ¡ndez and Brandon Belt. Mark Melancon put two guys on in the bottom half but put up the zero to seal the deal and the Giants had a series win.

Perhaps the Dodgers should be the only opponent for the rest of the way. It seems our boys deliver their best performances against the men in blue, yesterday's implosion notwithstanding. The Shark now has four decent starts out of six; the two turkeys account for 13 runs in 10-2/3 IP, the others including tonight make 11 runs in 28-2/3. He certainly earned the game ball but southpaw Steven Okert's five-out no-run appearance spanning the 9th and 10th was equally clutch. The Giants can't slug it out with teams, they have to play low-scoring games. This was more like the winning formula we expected.

Of note were Belt's four walks, he now has 22 or the fourth-most in baseball, leader Bryce Harper has 25. The Kid, Christian Arroyo, was 0-for-6 with three whiffs. You're in the big leagues now, lad.

Off-day tomorrow and then it's on to Cincinnati for a three-game set. Matt Cain gets the call Friday against 40-year old Bronson Arroyo (no relation!).

--M.C.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Good Way to Win

Win, 4-3 @LA 

Let's hear it for May!!

Any win is a good win, especially after a nightmarish April, but when you start a nine game road trip by beating Clayton Kershaw, you have truly found a very good way to win.  All it took was a high quality start from your ace, a flawless bullpen job, and home runs from your superstars.  No problem, we can do that all the time in May.

It just seems like we win when JohnnyC (4-1) takes the mound and tonight was no different.  A nifty outing of 107 pitches, 7 complete innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, resulting in a game score  of 65 (compared to Kershaw's pedestrian 41).  A big key was avoiding the long ball, which has pestered Cueto lately.  His lovely work was not wasted by the Melancon-less bullpen.  Okert got 5 straight outs and Law got the save with the last out.  Just the way you dream about it.

The best part of this dream game may be the offense. Yes, you heard me right, the offense.  In the first inning, Hunter Pence smacked a hanging curve out for a two run lead.  I think that was our first runs scored in the first inning since 2014.  OK, maybe not, but it felt like it.  So that was kinda HUGE.  And then, maybe even more up lifting than that, Buster Posey hit a homer.  No shit, he can still do that.  It even made Kershaw do a "aw schucks" reaction.  That is not something you see very often.

As I said, truly a good way to win.  I think I'll have a wee dram to celebrate.  Who knows when we will get such a sweet one again.  Cheers.